Reflections on... Week Two.
Tomorrow will mark two full weeks on the road! It's crazy to think of how much I've already seen. I've been to Oregon countless times before, but this was the first visit where I spent significant time in Southern and Central Oregon. The best part? I haven't had to drive on the I-5 this whole week.
After leaving Ashland, I spent a night in Medford. Thanks to my growing little side project, I partnered with Travel Medford for two days of exploring. The lead photo is of me ziplining with Rogue Valley ZipLine Adventure. This was my third time ziplining but my first in the United States and I couldn't help but laugh at the difference in safety procedures from my times in Zambia and Laos.
After my time getting spoiled ended, I made my way to Crater Lake via Rogue River - Siskiyou National Forest. I ended up camping here instead of at Crater Lake as I realized that while only 30 minutes away from the national park, the substantial elevation difference made it a lot warmer at night. And, there's nothing I hate more than being cold. I was asleep by 9PM and woke up at 8AM, so I think I made a good decision :)
This was my second time at Crater Lake, but my first time hiking in the park. While Garfield Peak was technically close due to snow still on the trail, there were plenty of hikers pushing forward and I knew I didn't want to miss seeing the lake from above.
From Crater Lake, I ventured onward to Umqua National Forest. A few months ago, I discovered the Umqua Hot Springs on Instagram and knew I needed to visit at some point in the summer. While the springs have gotten more on the tourism map recently, they are famously known as a naked hippie hang out spot. Definitely an interesting mix of people, which thankfully included a group of girls my age who offered to take my photo.
The road from Umqua to Bend (my next destination) is filled with waterfalls. I spent the first half of the day chasing all of them.
One of the most liberating experiences of long-term travel for me is being okay with not knowing where I am going to sleep each night. As I've traveled more and more, I've come to learn that everything works out and sometimes it's entirely more fun to figure it out as you go instead of planning everything out before hand. It doesn't work for everyone, but it's something that makes me so happy. I stopped at a ranger station on my way to Bend and asked for some advice on where to spend the night. He told me about Paulina Lake, a place that I hadn't yet heard of. I'm so grateful for his suggestion as my hike to Paulina Peak was one of the most enchanting I've ever done.
From Smith Rock, I made my way to Portland. I spent my weekend with Kassel, one of my best friends from the Peace Corps. We were both health volunteers and our sites were in the same region. Kassel is an incredible Portland tour guide - this weekend was spent making strawberry pie with the berries we picked on Sauvie Island, eating delicious Israeli food, visiting the Portland Rose Garden, and taking her dog, Wolfie, for a hike in Portland's Forest Park. The highlight? The hour and a half we spent in Powell's on Saturday night.